black girl magic · Inspiration · jamaica · Life · money · relationships · school · Uncategorized

Rich & Switch – The Ultimate Jamaican Betrayal?

Black people, I love you. We are the most creative, hilarious, hardworking set of people to exist (don’t debate me). But, we have some of the strangest mindsets that we hang onto for dear life, for fear of losing our identity. Today, I’m speaking directly to my black Jamaican community.

We need to release this weird false sense of entitlement we have to being addicted to the struggle. We’re so averse to being successful that when people get the opportunity to upgrade out of their dismal surroundings we refer to them as “rich and switch”. I’ve been a part of multiple conversations (some turn arguments) where I’ve been TEASED for being “uptown” or not being able to relate to certain struggles in life. There have been times when I literally felt ashamed of being raised in what is considered an “upper middle class” community, going to a prep school, and only ever having turkey neck once in my entire life after begging my mother to cook it just so I could see what all the noise was about. (My mother doesn’t cook turkey neck, not because it is considered “poor people oxtail” but because she genuinely isn’t a fan).

And then one day it hit me like an Audi S3: I would be doing my parents the ultimate disservice if I continued to let people make me feel ashamed, less black or less Jamaican for being raised the way I was.

And here’s why – Both my parents came from harsh beginnings and worked especially hard to get us where we are today.

Here’s a bit of background on my father: (In the interest of not making this blog too long I’ll focus mostly on his story.) Daddy grew up in the small rural community of Top Hill, Manchester. If you’ve ever been to Top Hill, you’d know that he grew up in the definition of “the struggle”. Even to this day, electricity is a luxury, there’s barely running water, and black and white TVs are still a staple in most homes. Poverty, yeah hey! (QQ Voice).

He was the first of 12 children and he left Top Hill at age 14 to escape the hardships of the community, and an abusive (and slightly psychotic) father to come to Kingston to live with his aunt and uncle. He didn’t have much to begin with, but he decided there had to be more to life than his current circumstances, and so he went in pursuit of it. He barely went to primary school, and thus didn’t qualify to attend high school, but being the brilliant mind he was, he was able to learn “a trade” in masonry and building construction. From there he literally built his life from the ground up, from being the “likkle man” on the construction sites to being a building contractor for the government and the private sector (and the MANY odd jobs in between that I can’t even begin to list). And dad learned early on that making connections was important in climbing the ladder (anti-social as he was), and soon he was driving around the governor general and shaking hands with the prime minister. (Random cool fact: Dad was a part of the promotion team that brought THE Michael Jackson to Jamaica in the 70’s). I don’t care what Beyonce says, Gerald Dawkins was the definition of a hustler.

Things didn’t always work out the way he wanted, but my father was always determined to make it work in order to provide a good life for his family. It is because of the hard work and support of my parents why I was able to attend a prep school, and why I went to university without having to apply for student loans, and for that I am forever grateful. (FYI, there is NOTHING wrong with primary schools and NO SHAME in student loans).

It would not only be disrespectful but an absolute waste if I was to settle for any quality of life lower than that which my father worked super hard to ensure that I was able to enjoy. Were there hard times in the past? Absolutely! Especially after he became ill and was unable to work like he used to. But those aren’t the times I want to meditate on. Honestly, if I could just forget all the times that we were so broke that mom had to use coins to buy groceries at the supermarket, or the times when they had to borrow cash from family and amazing neighbours (big up unuh self) to clear medical expenses, I gladly would. If that makes me a “rich and switch” then so be it.

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My point is, we should never be ashamed of where we come from, but we should also never feel comfortable to settle where we are. We must ALWAYS be aiming higher, pushing further and evolving from our current situation. And more importantly we must learn to support the people around us that are making moves. Encourage your friends to be winners. Encourage your friends never to settle. And GAS THEM UP when they’re doing great! Stop being hateful and jealous. Use their success to fuel you to want to become more successful. It’s time we stopped apologising for being prosperous, especially when we came from hard upbringing. And please, stop brainwashing children into believing that escaping poverty is the ultimate betrayal to their past or their “blackness”.

Best believe I intend to spend some Sunday mornings out on my yacht, being boujie as hell, drinking orange juice (not mimosas) from a champagne flute and sunbathing to improve my melanin.

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Will there be hard times? I suspect there will. But to stay there because I’m afraid of people seeing me as “uptown” or not true to my “culture” would be beyond ridiculous. In honour of my father (RIP dad), black girl magic, my name, Jesus’ life death and Resurrection, and my future family, I WILL be successful and I WILL be stunting like nobody’s business.

shemoney

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christianity · dating · film making · Inspiration · Life · money · relationships · Uncategorized

From a Living Single: Don’t Slide Into My DMs! Unless…

It goes down in the DMs – everybody knows the song. And if you’re on twitter you’re probably just at your wits end with these twitter stories of how people met their “bae” via twitter DMs or “shooting their shot” in their crush’s mentions. Coincidentally, this week alone I’ve had 3 guys slide into my DMs on 3 different social media platforms, and trust me, it ain’t all that.

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And before anyone can guilt me into thinking I should be grateful men find me attractive enough/interesting enough to slip into my DMs like a direct deposit slip at an ATM, let me just gently lay down some rules before you even consider hitting me up.

  1. Maybe find out if I’m single first?
    I know what you’re thinking. “How are they going to know if you’re single without hitting you up first?” Great question! By all means please feel free to let that be one of your first 3 questions. “Good afternoon, how are you?” “I just saw you on my feed and thought you’d be interesting to get to know. Is that okay?” “Are you single?” Then I can give my answer and we can both move on with our lives. I have no issues with you being forward just as long as you’re ready for my answer. Instead of the “hey ma! Been a while! Take my number and holla.”

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2. Don’t pretend you just want a friend, I’m not stupid.
Listen, it’s the blessing or curse of our generation. We’ve learned to communicate in interesting ways using the interweb. If a guy says he wants to watch Netflix with me I automatically take it as a euphemism to mean he wants to get laid. If you “slide into my DMs” I automatically think you’re looking for a relationship. Just want to get to know me? How about you hit me up in my mentions where EVERYONE can see? (Some of my closest friends right now I met through twitter mentions. It’s not that complicated)

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3. Thirdly, and most importantly, don’t waste my time.
The reason I’m so picky about my relationships and who I let into my circle is because I literally don’t have the time to waste. I’m too busy ensuring my mental, spiritual, financial and physical health is on 100.
I’m building my relationship with God while building empires for my grandkids and shooting films so I can stunt on my naysayers and help put Jamaica on the map at the Oscars, while still gassing up my friends and family when they’re out here being amazing. I have ZERO tolerance for time wasters in my life. If you can’t add to what I’m doing in ANY way shape or form, you already know you’re up to no good in my DMs. If you’re just trying to get laid, check Tinder, I got shit to do.

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If you’re not trying to be a better human being just in your day to day life, don’t bother. And for the love of God, if you’re not already building something or have plans of building these aspects of your life where I can help in some way, don’t bother. I’m not trying to be a trophy wife. I’m too busy, too tired and far too old to be playing games.

boom

christianity · Inspiration · Life · Uncategorized

Life Blog: Work the Deck

Work the Deck (1)

 

We live in a time period where everybody wants everything and they all want it right now. We’re so plugged into social media where people only show the best portions of their lives and we convince ourselves that only what we see on Instagram is real life. Then, we get angry when we can’t pop bottles or take yachts out with our girlfriends or go on vacations in Cancun with our soulmate.  We’re so hung up on people’s lives that we get frustrated with our own, believing that life owes us something.

News flash! Life owes you absolutely nothing.gasp

My advice to you: Work the deck. 

Every deck has fifty-two cards. We may have been dealt a bad hand initially, but at the end of the day we all have access to the same fifty-two cards. Some may have to work harder to swap out their Jokers for Kings, but the Kings are still present. Learn to work the deck. 

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  1. If you understand the joker you understand life. The joker card is seen as the most useless card in the deck. Majority of card games don’t use the joker and so it is cast aside. However, sometimes the things that seem the most useless in life are the things that teach us the most valuable lessons. If you’ve never had a Joker card it can be hard to appreciate the King.source
  2. Don’t be phased by someone else’s hand. Some people are dealt a great hand but they waste it and end up with a losing game. While on the flip side some people have a hand full of jokers but they work their way up to a royal flush. What makes the difference is how we play the game. We all enter the world the same, but how we exit is up to us. What do you want people to remember? Who do you want to impact? What do you want to change for the better? These answers are all up to you.
  3. We are all here to please an audience of One – the true Ace. If you want your hand to improve you need to focus on the Ace in the deck. Even if you have a hand full of jokers, having an Ace can make all the difference in your hand. Get familiar with your Ace and even if you have to drop every other card in your hand, hold on to your Ace. This will be the thing that drives you and gives you purpose – the ruler of the deck and the reason for the game.

In essence, the outcome of your life is in your hands once you know how to utilize what you have. We all come from different backgrounds and go through varying degrees of shitty experiences, but in the end ensure whatever happens in your life that you CAN control is your decision. Work the deck. Play the game. Finish on top. 

mic drop

 

dating · Inspiration · Life · relationships · Uncategorized

From a Living Single: The Talking Phase

I remember being in prep school and learning about the water cycle and thinking just how simple it was because each stage had a distinct purpose. I remember thinking: “I’ll never forget this!” because it was so straightforward. If only we could apply this concept to every area of our daily lives… especially our dating lives. It seems as if every time I go to bed and wake up, a new phase of the dating process appears.

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I’m well aware that I’ve already done a blog about “21st Century Dating Rules” but my generation truly continues to confuse me. Maybe I’m just a little old school, but this new phase of dating that’s not really “dating” but you’re not exactly “just friends” but you’re not “exclusively committed” to each other but also not into an “open relationship” is hella confusing. This, from what I gather is the “talking” phase.

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My head is spinning just writing all of that, so how do people actually live it out? If the case is that you’ve just met and you’re slightly interested but not sure that you truly want to get into a committed relationship then I believe it’s fine to test the waters a little. The truth is after 3 dates and conversing with each other if you’re still not sure you want to actually “date” this person then you need to just move on.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve been “talking” to somebody for 5 months, that person is not serious about your feelings, your growth or you. They’re literally taking you for a big claffy and are very likely “talking” to other people as well. 

So what can we do to fix this entire confusing phase of “talking”? Glad you asked!

  1. BE COMPLETELY HONEST WITH YOUR DATE. Figure out what stage of the relationship you are in by having an open and honest conversation. Just because someone asks you “Where is this going?” or “What are we doing?” doesn’t mean they’re ready to get married next week. Chill out and be mature about your answers. As I’ve previously mentioned, that gray area is fine for someone you’ve just met and are just getting to know but the truth is even after you’re married you’ll still be learning about your spouse. If you’re afraid to commit because you haven’t known them for years, you’ll forever be waiting to settle down. People are always evolving and always changing and if you’re with somebody that cannot change, they’re stifling your growth. Run.
  2. LONELINESS IS NOT AN EXCUSE. If you’re lonely get a pet. If your only reason for “talking” to the person that you’re currently involved with is to quell your loneliness, I suggest you listen to Tweet, read some Christine Feehan, spend some time with God or visit your nearest library for their best self help book. Being lonely is not a good enough reason to want to date, especially since loneliness is an internal issue. And if you just need company for dinner or someone to warm your bed a few nights a week there are apps for that. Don’t string along a good person just because you have an itch that needs attention.
  3. IT’S OKAY TO PACE YOURSELF. The rationale for “talking” came about because people are afraid of rushing into something they are not completely sure about. This is why I believe in pacing yourself and – prepares for the lynch mob – dating around. Jamaica doesn’t present a dating culture but I praise the places that do. Contrary to popular belief, dating around doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping around. When you choose to date around however, it is important to be very honest with the people you are dating. Let them know they aren’t the only one that has caught your eye. Usually by the end of date number 1 you know whether or not you would like to keep in contact with the person and this helps to extend your gray area a tad bit. Once you decide to commit, stay committed.

I don’t pretend to be a relationship coach but the fact is relationships are hard enough as it is, let’s stop complicating them even more.

#KillTheTalkingPhase2017

Inspiration · Life · Uncategorized

Redirect: Change the Conversation

Disclosure

13|13|22.

No, these aren’t my measurements, but they are numbers that are forever etched in my mind. These were my ages when I had ‘unwanted sexual advances’ brought up against me. And yes, that is my very careful way of putting it because though years into my recovery it’s still hard to call it what it really is.

One in three…

I’m not sure if this is a false sense of bravado brought on by the fact that I’m currently in pre-production for a film about sex trafficking in Jamaica. Or if it’s due me forcing myself to sit through the video for “Til it Happens to You” by Lady Gaga… five times… or if it’s because I’ve just finished watching the documentary “The Hunting Ground” and seen how two college girls’ survivor stories changed the USA. Whichever it is, I sincerely hope that by tomorrow when people start reading this I won’t be overcome with fear, delete it and pretend as if it never happened.

It happened. Three times. By three different people. Stranger Danger was not my story, and this realisation is what struck me the hardest. These were all people I knew and trusted and that didn’t matter. What was more shocking is that I’m 98% sure that two of these three people had little to no idea that what they did was wrong, let alone a crime.

[For clarity – since I am doing this blog – I will not speak of the first incident (which also happened to be the most traumatic and damaging), the second I was held down and forcefully groped in public and the third I was pinned to a bed and held against my will…for nearly an hour]

As a girl growing up I got all the talks – don’t go to places with people you don’t know, be careful what you wear on the street, don’t take drinks from strangers, don’t leave your drink open and come back to it, follow your instincts, don’t take unmarked taxis, don’t be afraid to scream for help…  

The Problem

I didn’t grow up with boys but I wonder if they get a similar talk and similar warnings? Personally, I’m sick of how barely reactive we are to issues of sexual assault and abuse. I’m also really tired of females being blamed and being badgered with questions like “What were you wearing?” “Were you drunk?” If clothes were the issue 1. Men wouldn’t be raped and 2. Women who live in places that require them to be covered from head to toe also wouldn’t have an issue with rape.

It’s time we start having conferences for rape prevention specifically designed for men. It should be just decent behaviour to know not to invade someone’s intimate space unless you’re invited, everybody should know that. But when we are constantly being bombarded with sex-this and sex-that, something is bound to stick the wrong way. Now, don’t misunderstand me, in NO WAY am I excusing what these men/boys did, I’m simply saying there is a huge piece of the puzzle that we are missing and are refusing to acknowledge.

It’s time to change the conversation and remove the blaming spotlight from the victims. The only thing we should be highlighting about the victims is becoming survivors and healing from the trauma.

Healing

Healing is possible, but it’s gradual, painful and continuous. Some days it feels like you take one step forward and fifty steps back, but the key is to keep pressing forward. I’m not at the same place I was ten years ago and that’s because of a combination of spirituality (God cares…), intense therapy, medication and an amazing support team. Your combination may be different but I need you to know IT WILL GET BETTER. Yes, it will take some time, yes there will be times when you feel like there’s no progress, sometimes you’ll wonder if you will ever not be “damaged”.

I just need you to know more than anything that there is hope. You can overcome and you will live an amazing, fulfilling life.

Take care of you. You’re not a victim, you’re a survivor.

                                                                                         ***

Below are the links to a few websites that were resourceful to me:

https://www.rainn.org/ (mostly useful for those in the US)

http://www.pandys.org/ – literally saved my life a few times.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to me. I’m happy to just be a listening ear.

christianity · church · Life · relationships · religion · Uncategorized

Christian Diaries: Call a Spade a Spade

I have held back on saying much about the accusations made against the Moravian pastor, and to be honest my main reason is because I am yet to really read the news article. Truth be told I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stomach it if I did so I left it alone and kept silent. However, I realised that my personal silence has contributed to the overall silence of the church and I cannot in good conscience continue to not speak out.

We as the church have very misguided beliefs and focus. Just a few weeks ago when the Jamaica Yellow Pages released the 2017 directory there was outrage and protests about the cover that displayed our culture (And dancehall IS a part of our culture whether we like it or not). Yet, we’ve been so SILENT on the sexual assault of a fifteen year old girl by a pastor.

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Now, I am going to completely disregard the comments of victim blaming I’ve been hearing & seeing and simply remind everyone that it is the LAW that a 15-year-old CANNOT consent to sex. It matters not the time she was at his house or caught in his vehicle or even if she seduced him, she CANNOT under ANY circumstances consent.

Now that we’ve cleared up who is wrong in this situation let us get back to the matter at hand.

I refuse to believe that this was a one-off incident. Predators typically don’t do one-off instances. That being said, I also refuse to believe  that NOBODY outside of his victims knew about it and the fact that it has taken this many years to be brought to light is a disgrace. Silence is cowardice. The protection of this man is cowardice. The protection of ANY such offender is cowardice and it blurs the lines on where we stand on with these issues. Who do we stand with? Whose backs do we have? Who do we cover? Who do we protect?

Brushing these crimes under the carpet does not make them go away. Do you want to know the fruits produced from sexual assault and rape? Lack of trust from anyone, PTSD, depression, anxiety, promiscuity, suicide (these are just the mental effects)… the list goes on. We wonder why so many of our people have dysfunctional lives? THIS is one of the reasons! We cannot preach this one away, church. We need to become proactive and the fact that we’re not reactive either causes for great concern.

Who are we trying to please or protect? God is perfect, it is us who are flawed so stop trying to “protect” God by sweeping crimes under the rug. God cares ZERO about our title as Christians if we refuse to live for what the title means.

I realise that a lot of what I’ve said is more of a rant than anything else but at this moment that’s all I can do. I am sick and tired of our ineffectiveness in places where it matters. Salt and light changes things but right now we’re as ineffective as Baygon pon croaking lizard.

Wake up and wise up. 

On behalf of the church I apologise for all the victims & survivors or sexual abuse within the church that we’ve kept silent on.

I can no longer sit by idly and twiddle my thumbs. Who will join me?

dating · Life · relationships · Uncategorized

From A Living Single: It’s not worth it

We exist in a society where being a single 20-something year old is almost seen as a crime. If you’re 21 and without a partner it’s seen as the start of your infinite doom.

And God forbid you make it to 25 without any prospect of being married within the next 3 years.

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People have actually begun tapping their watches at me at weddings. (Ya, the nerve…)

With so much pressure being placed on finding your “happily ever after” before 30, some may feel the need to lower their standard and give up some things they hold very dear to their heart just so they are able to trade being a satisfied single for an unhappy partnership.

But, before you start throwing out your moral compass, here are some things I believe you should NEVER sacrifice for a relationship.

  1. Your faith – I put this first because to me this is my most important will-never-give-up-for-any-man-any-time-anywhere-ever-in-life-thing. As a Christian, spirituality (not necessarily religion) is extremely important to me. My spiritual life is my anchor. Without it, without Christ, I literally don’t think I’d be alive. On a day to day basis my beliefs are what keep me sane. (Trust me, I tried doing this life thing without it and it literally drove me to see a therapist.) Faith is something I have to have in common with my significant other simply because it takes up such a crucial, significant portion of my life. I have come to the realisation that nothing on this earth (as I said, I’ve tested this…) could ever replace the peace and joy I get from my spiritual life. If my “happily ever after” means giving up what I believe in, miss me with that mess.

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2. Your morals – Now, contrary to popular belief, your faith and your morals are not the same thing – even though your moral compass is most times dependent on your faith system. Your morals are what help you decide what is right and what is wrong. This therefore dictates what is okay and comfortable for you, and what is crossing the line. How you go about your day to day life depends on your personal moral compass. If you begin to sacrifice this, you sacrifice who you are as a person. Unless this is for the better (making you a better person) it’s definitely not worth it.

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3. Your dreams – The older I get the more I realise some relationships aren’t meant to last, but more to teach you a lesson so your future relationships can be greater, evidently leading you to your life partner. In my last relationship, if we were to take things any further I knew I would have to give up everything I’d ever dreamed of becoming, to play a role of something I was not. I knew that because I loved him I was willing to sacrifice what I wanted, to become what he needed. (Side note: before I get attacked by the feminists, there’s a lot more to the story that I cannot get into than just some woman giving up her dreams for a man).

I also realised that years down the road, I would have been of no use to neither him nor myself because I would have been miserable trying to fulfill this role that I made a vow to fulfill, but not truly being happy with myself, life and in tern the relationship on a whole. Sometimes for everyone’s sake and sanity, it’s best you not forsake your dreams for a relationship.

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To many of you, these may not be important enough to sacrifice for a life that promises to fulfill all your romantic dreams, but for me if it’s going to cost me my sanity and my happiness, I’m fine without it.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that I’m missing a few crucial ones, so I’m inviting you to comment and let me know one thing you’ll never give up for a relationship and why. 🙂

As usual, thanks for reading!

xo Alee.